No. Seriously. Richard Cohen really did dedicate his column this week to complaining about Obama’s memorial speech for Richard Holbrooke. According to Cohen, Obama didn’t really like Holbrooke and didn’t pretend to in his oration.
Obama’s lack of artifice can be admirable, but it is almost never politic. For a while he even wouldn’t wear that kitschy American flag lapel pin, 95 cents worth of patriotism. But blarney is as essential to politics as the evanescent lie is to seduction. I am referring now to convincing strangers that you understand their concerns, feel their pain, so that in the end you actually do. A good politician never speaks to a crowd. It is always a collection of friends. Obama speaks mostly to crowds. His hallmark has been his disconnect, a perplexing standoffishness that has hurt him politically.
At the end of the week, the general consensus was that Obama had proved his mettle in Tucson and, along with his recent legislative victories, righted his presidency. But the president who bounded onto the Kennedy Center stage two days later shrunk in stature as the program wore on, and he left the hall, in my eyes at least, looking a lot like the man he was before Tucson.
I think Cohen has caught a communicable disease called botulinum Noonanitis. It causes you to make trite disconnected observations and vomit up ridiculous pet peeves on an unsuspecting readership.
Do we really want lessons on the art of seduction from a veteran sexual harrasser? Did he really just make a case for questioning the president’s patriotism because he didn’t wear a flag-pin?
Wank on, wank off.